In the final lines of Hebrews 11 – that famous “heroes of faith” chapter – the inspired writer hits the fast forward button. He lists a roll call of people whose mere names bring to mind their heroic lives: Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets. Suddenly he stops listing the names – because there are so many. The writer simply refers to them as those who, through faith, “conquered kingdoms…shut the mouths of lions…quenched the power of fire…received back their dead…wandered in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground” – as though to say, “Faith has a thousand faces! Are we among them?”
One writer prefers to call these heroes of faith “survivors of the fog.” He says they have something in common – a dread time of testing – when the fog descends and everything goes blank – when they are called upon to keep faith in the face of everything that contradicts that faith.
It was no noble decision on their part. None of these “heroes of faith” chose the path down which God took them. It’s like that self-deprecating remark once made by President Kennedy when someone asked him how it felt to be a war hero. He replied: “It was totally involuntary. They sank my boat.”
So it is in the life of God’s children. Each test is custom-made for each of us – never more than we can handle, and never less that we should.
The fog is once more descending as Jesus foretold. The war and the bloodshed, the terrorism and the trampling of God’s commandments, the natural disasters and the denial of basic Bible teachings by those who stand in pulpits – all previews of coming attractions, telegrams of things to come. We ought not have the nerve to act surprised. Christ has warned us.
And if, for the moment at least, our houses are still standing and our electricity is still on, and our biggest problem is paying for one more tank of gas, let us not draw the hasty conclusion that we are therefore the more favored heroes of faith. As C.S. Lewis once observed: “If we were stronger, we might be less tenderly treated. If we were braver, we might be sent, with far less help, to defend far more desperate posts in the great battle.”
Let there no whining when our time of testing comes. Let there be no selfish hoarding of the blessings God has bestowed. Let there be no surrender to the false teachings of our times. Let there be no proud hearts that wage war against grace to turn liberty from sin into a license to sin. Rather, let us deny ourselves. Let us take up our cross and follow after Him who went to the cross for us. Let us put on the armor of God. Let us take up the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. Let us show our colors, unashamed. Let us fight the good fight of the faith. For our time has now come. The fog is descending – as it ever has for heroes of faith. Are we among them?